200611101244ICv2 has a terse report that AK Comics, the Egypt-based comics publishing company is suspending its monthly publication of comics to concentrate on graphic novels.

All material in the graphic novels will be new. The first two releases will feature the characters Rakan, The Lone Warrior and Aya, The Princess of Darknes with art by Rafael Albuquerque and Rafeal Kras.

The graphic novels will be 100 to 132 pages. No pricing information is available.

Johanna, as is her wont, has a slightly more critical and snarky look at variant editions of the press release.

Back at the old Beat we regularly linked to stories emanating from the Middle East which talked about AK’s quest to introduce homegrown heroes to the region. (A quest since taken up by Teshkeel in the Middle East and Virgin in India.)

A year ago, AK’s head had THIS to say about sales:

AK’s superheroes have made a splash in Egypt’s youth publishing scene, currently selling more than 20,000 copies per month domestically, of which 2,000 are by subscription. EgyptAir buys a further 5,000 copies for in-flight distribution, the company says.

English versions of each month’s book cost LE 5 while the Arabic ones cost LE 4 ‘ and they estimate each copy is read by three people. The company has also targeted major NGOs and schools to expand its readership, distributing over 15,000 free copies to orphans and underprivileged Egyptian children as well as Palestinian refugees.

In a bid to reach a wider socio-economic segment, AK Comics is also selling an ‘economy’ black-and-white Arabic edition that sells for LE 1, making it the most affordable comic book in the Middle East. Of AK’s print run, 40% of the issues are black and white, 35% are color Arabic and 25% color English.

Besides newsstand and subscription sales, AK is working on ad sales; rates currently range from LE 1,500 for a full page to LE 4,000 for the back cover.

These numbers do not inspire vast confidence. (The population of Egypt alone os 78 milion.)Given the continued interest in creating homegrown heroes for the Middle Eastern and South Asian communities, AK (And Teshkeel and Virgin) certainly have a big brass ring to search for. AK’s move away from comics and into GNs may be as much a reflection of the state of the pamphlet as anything. AK had a booth in San Diego this year, however, we’re guessing — and it’s just a wild hunch — that Islamic themed comics didn’t gain too much traction in the comics shops of America. With retail outlets in the Middle East still developing, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the newsstand is still problematic for the humble comic book around the world.